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Eating locally with Jared Ingersoll

G-Online

The clever Jared Ingersoll from Danks Street Depot talks to us about his food philosophy of local, seasonal and organic food, and how you can support good Aussie food producers.

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Jared Ingersoll from Danks Street Depot.

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"I am a die hard eater - which to me means eating things that I think taste really really yummy! So I always make sure I treat myself to the best-tasting, most awesome, coolest, delicious things I can find to put in my mouth. While I generally start from that position, I'm careful to make sure that I do it in a low-impact way, meaning that I try to source food from places that feel good and that do good - which is really easy to do as well! So, I reckon that McDonald's sucks, and I don't eat that, because if you want a burger there are some really good places you can get them instead.

"One of the big problems that people in society have is that we really love making things hard and complicated. They say they can't get to the markets because it's too hard, but if they just chill out and look into where they can get really good food, it's so easy to find! Beautiful, fresh, local, seasonal produce is right there on most people's doorsteps, they've just got to take that little bit of time to start off with to find out where to get it from. Once you've garnered that knowledge it's really easy!

"Our restaurant's food philosophy is local, seasonal and sustainable - it has been for two years, and it probably will continue to be that way for as long as I've got a breath in my body. That's because those three things to me are not just a philosophy, they're also a set of rules that gives me parameters to work within, and I've discovered over time that those three simple things give me the ability t deliver really good, delicious food that celebrates the seasons at a price that people don't mind paying.

"In Australia, we are really really lucky because we are an incredibly privileged society. For example, with two clicks of the mouse and a few numbers on your credit card you can have the best of anything delivered direct to your doorstep within 24 hours. But we throw away massive amounts of food, we've got problems with obesity, we're some spoilt for choice, but we don't realise how lucky we are.

"So one of the things I'm most enthused about it that I make sure that i only use food produce is that i know is good. we have to get people to trust again, and to get people more engaged. There's almost an acceptance that our purchasing decisions are going to be the wrong ones anyway. Or that people are worried that they're going to be paying too much, or that they're not going to like that. It seems like people are so tense with a certain amount of anxiety around our food. so what I'm really trying to do at the moment is to try to get people to chill the heck out! Just relax and get engaged with other people again.

"One of the reasons why I focus so heavily on local food and why I think it's so powerful is because by just focussing back on human connections and people talking to people - that tends to fix a whole bunch of problems automatically. There's all this stuff about 100-mile eating, and carbon footprints, and all that sort of hedonistic, idealistic, intellectual pursuits around geography - and there's validity to it for sure - but at the end of the day one of the things that is more important about eating locally is knowing where your food comes from, and making connections with the land via the person that's working the land. If you're buying food from the person who's growing it, chances are it's going to be local, and they're going to be passionate. And if they're passionate they're not going to be doing things detrimental to the environment, or they're not going to be mistreating their animals.

"A realisation that I've had in the last twelve months or so, and that I've been trying to communicate to as many people as possible since, is that you have more power now than you've ever had before in your life. You, the consumer, every single individual, we are so awesomely powerful, but we just haven't figured it out yet.

"If you look back at the supermarkets in the 1920's it was all about the retailer controlling a lot of our purchasing decisions, then it became really dictated by the brands, and that's why brands like Coca-Cola became so huge, and they controlled both the retailer and the consumer. Now, we're living in a very modern world where everyone's able to communicate very easily on a global scale, and that makes the consumer really powerful. We're able to make snap quick, informed decisions about what we're doing.

"A lot of the corporates are chucking so much money into marketing, more than at any other time in their history, in order to try and control the consumer again. But the consumer is thinking faster than ever. If you look at the egg industry, they've lost 10 per cent of their market share in Australia, and they haven't lost it to any competitors or overseas producers, they've lost it to people producing eggs from chickens in their own backyard again."

Seasonal produce to cook with

"What I'm really enjoying cooking at the moment is asparagus and tomatoes. It's great to see that tomatoes have finally sorted themselves out; tomatoes in the past could be hit and miss because they've been too slow to come into season, there's limited suppliers, but when you get a hold of a good tomato it costs too much - but they've really settled down recently to a reasonable price and a great taste."

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Check out the current Dec/Jan issue of Green Lifestyle magazine for more profiles of green chefs from around Australia.

Click on these links to read our interviews with more green chefs – Jared Ingersoll from Danks Street Depot, and Troy Spencer & Oliver Guthrie from Spencer Guthrie.